Because nothing I see this morning
brings us closer to spring,
snow falling out of the Jersey sky
into the cloudy river,
wet shoes facing toe-in
by the stove, the uppers
spotted with rock salt

and because each sound signifies winter—
wind in the wires and the far-off train
like the voice of a child
circling the planet
looking for a place to be born—

I spread out the mustard
like a gold map
over the slabs of rye
and lay down the sliced mozzarella
holding the tomatoes for last

because they are acid and red
and grow on a clustered vine
staked up in a cage
in another country
of sunlight and olives

where children run barefoot
chasing a rusty bicycle rim
and the grass clumps up
through cracks in the bricks
next to a stone bridge scaled
with gray lichen, and the warm earth
swollen with black truffle fungi,
smells of bay leaves and wine.